By Jessica Mathews /

A local lawmaker’s bill that was recently signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer aims to help address a growing shortage of special education teachers in Michigan.

Senate Bill 657 was sponsored by Republican State Senator Lana Theis of Brighton Township. A press release says it allows prospective educators in the process of obtaining state certification to teach special education to do so under an interim basis. They are required to complete a training program equivalent to at least 32 college credit hours.

Theis chairs the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee and commented that nothing is more important than the education of children, especially those with special needs. She said unfortunately, Michigan is experiencing a severe shortage in special education teachers and they need to be doing more to get qualified educators in classrooms and quickly – adding she appreciates that the governor signed her bill.

Under the legislation, a teacher with an existing teaching certification will be granted an interim special education certification if they complete an accelerated training program that meets certain state criteria. The bill limits the granting of interim certifications in special education to a period of three years, but those who might be issued certification under the bill would be able to continue teaching after the sunset.

SB 657 also requires the state’s Center for Educational Performance and Information, with the Department of Education, to partner with at least one research university to analyze and produce a report every January 1st, beginning in 2022, on the teacher shortage situation in Michigan.